Edward Lyttelton.

Character and religion online

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the conceited and the hard-hearted are barred from its
saving effect, because both alike are unconscious of their
need. But no men are more unconscious of their need
than those who can spend time, thought, and ingenuity
in estimating the gravity of other men's shortcomings.
Hence we can see that the propensity in this direction
means pro tanto an incapacity to enter into the central,

1 " People, of course, are included." This remark is based
on a certain interpretation of the words in the Sermon on the
Mount drawn from the context. Christ uses the words " Judge
not " without any object ; and we may connect them with the
end of the preceding chapter, " Sufficient unto the day is the
evil thereof " by supposing that having broadly mentioned
evil and given a certain warning about it, He passes on to con-
sider the Christian's attitude towards it. First negatively :
whatever we may think of evil or do about it we are not to criti-
cize the scheme of things which allows of it as if we had a right
to say it might have been better ; and, in the broad expression
" evil," people are included.


simplest meaning of the Atonement. The critic of others
cannot identify his own sin with the sin which Christ bore,
otherwise he would be very, very tender towards sin in
others, unless, of course, plain speaking to the face should
be a necessity. But this is only a digression to show how
intimately bound up the reception of the Atonement is
with a deep self-abasement. I have mentioned two
points in answer to our main question. There are clearly
two more. The next would be that the teaching of the
vicariousness of Christ's work is repellent to the natural
man, not only because it is difficult to the intellect but
because it leaves, comparatively, so little to our own
efforts. " Without me ye can do nothing " is a saying
which a proud man may tolerate, but certainly cannot

B. But how would you answer this objection ? You
said just now that the work of Sanctification or the renew-
ing of our lives by the Risen Christ is part of the Christian
scheme ? I mean, though you do not give it the first
place, you admit that it is true and essential ?

E. Certainly.

B. Why, then, do not the words you have quoted
refer to this part of the scheme of Salvation as truly as
to the Atonement wrought by the Saviour's Death ?
Preachers are always insisting that God's grace is every-
thing, and man's efforts of no avail. Now surely that
refers to the growth in goodness and not only to the
initial stage when the Sacrifice for sin was offered ; but
I fear I am wording my thoughts very crudely.

E. Your meaning is quite plain. In more technical
language we should say, Is not dependence on God quite
as necessary for Sanctification as for Justification ? Now
a fairly complete answer for the purposes of our discussion


would be that it might be, but that if so, it is much less
manifestly so than in the matter of the Atonement, and
consequently the theory would serve less well for an
answer to our main question. You would probably
admit that ?

B. I think so, but of course one requires experience
in these matters as in others. The warfare against pride
certainly requires practice as much as any other war-

E. Indeed, that is most true. But we may surely
go further and say that the process of Sanctification
essentially demands at every step the full and complete
co-operation of the individual. It is quite as much sub-
jective as objective. You cannot conceive of God's
grace operating through Christ on a man as if he had
nothing to do with it. Every step in advance is his step ;
and if character is strengthened it is his character. There
can be nothing fictitious about the growth in holiness,
nor will it be long unperceived by others. It is quite
possible for a struggling follower of his Master to be pos-
sessed by the idea of grace imparted by the Holy Spirit,
an infinitely lavish bounty not given " by measure/' but
as soon as he is so possessed he runs a danger of pluming
himself on the joyful though rudimentary evidences of
a new vitality : then, immediately, the disease of intro-
spection begins, or, if it does not, the equally fatal " boast-
ing " of which St. Paul often speaks. Try to conceive
of this teaching of grace being isolated from that of the
Atonement, and I think you will see that the more it is
emphasized at the expense of the latter the less likely it
is to have added Humility to the catalogue of virtues.

B. Well, I suppose it would be open to the objection
I formerly levelled against Christianity at large in this


connexion, viz. that it presented a view of God taking
infinite trouble for men without making any essential
demand on them for self-abasement. Whereas if the
Atonement is made the centre of the scheme there is such
a demand.

E. That, I think, is quite a fair way of putting the

B. Then if the doctrine of grace imparted through
Christ is insufficient by itself to plant or foster the idea
of humility, you would not, I suppose, refuse it a place
in connexion with that of Atonement ?

E. How could I possibly do so in view of the great
space it occupies in New Testament teaching ? Nay,
I am strongly convinced that if taught in due relation to
the other rear avaXoyiav t% 7rLaricD

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Online LibraryEdward LytteltonCharacter and religion → online text (page 10 of 19)